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Sox end playoff drought but miss ABLCS
02/12/2019 1:44 AM ET

With the 2018/2019 Brut Australian Baseball League season done and dusted, now it's time to look back at how each team fared in reverse finishing order. Today we look at the Sydney Blue Sox. 

Sydney were the Brut Australian Baseball League's big movers but despite gaining 12 regular-season wins on 12 months ago fell short of a maiden ABL Championship Series.

The Blue Sox limped into their first postseason since 2015, going 5-7 in their final 12 games to surrender the North-East Division title to Brisbane, before falling in game two and three of their ABLSF with Perth.

Sydney's third-place finish marks it sixth in nine seasons of the ABL and leaves the Sox as the only foundation team without an appearance in the ABLCS.

But despite a disappointing finish to the season, the Sox were the feel-good story of the campaign.

They were 20-8 after seven rounds and finished with 25 wins, building their success on the back of strong pitching.

A year after recording an ABL-worse 7.01 ERA, they led the league with a 3.20 mark.

Starters Alex Maestri (5-4, 2.93 ERA), Craig Anderson (2-1, 2.25), Luke Wilkins (2-4, 3.09) and Josh Guyer (7-1, 2.60 ERA) spearheaded the transformation.

Ty'Relle Harris (0.87 ERA), Shogo Nakashima (2.45) and Todd Van Steensel (4.50) provided stability out of the bullpen.

Middle infielders Gift Ngoepe and Dwayne Kemp combined for 105 hits and 56 RBI.

Locals Michael Campbell and Jacob Younis also put together impressive seasons.


What went right

The Blue Sox brought in ABL experienced talent including Alex Maestri (Brisbane), Ty'Relle Harris (Brisbane) and Jack Murphy (Canberra) and it paid off.

Murphy has a quiet season offensively but provided plenty of experience and composure behind the player while Harris and Maestri were pillars of the league-leading pitching staff.

Dwayne Kemp and Gift Ngoepe lived up to the hype.

Josh Guyer's successful return and transition to starter was another tick for Sydney.


What went wrong

They cooled off at the wrong time.

The Sox dropped seven of their final 12 games in the regular season, after only losing eight of their first 28, to drop behind Brisbane and miss out on a home ABLSF.

They went to Perth confident after sweeping the regular-season series between the teams and took game one.

But they dropped the next two to watch their title hopes fade away.


Most impressive win

Defeated Brisbane 11-2 at Blacktown International Sportspark on December 27

The Sox winning streak hit seven games with a big series opening win over Brisbane in round seven.

Sydney gave up an early lead but hit back in the bottom of the first to take the upperhand.

They added five runs in the fourth to chase Bandits' starter Ryan Bollinger from the contest.

A three-run sixth was the icing on the cake.

Zac Shepherd homered and the Sox finishing with 15 hits to seven.

Alex Maestri collected his fifth win, striking out seven in six innings. Player of the Season

Gift Ngoepe

Ngoepe joined the Sox from round two and made an immediate impact, collecting a hit in three of four games against Canberra.

The South African went 3-for-5 in game four, kickstarting a 12-game hitting streak to push his batting average above .350.

It stayed there, leading the team with a .379 average, six homers and 32 runs batted in.

Ngoepe also produced solid defence and showcased speed on the basepaths, taking nine bags on 10 attempts.


Highlight of the season

Gift Ngoepe helped Sydney complete just the second sweep of Perth in Western Australia, putting the Sox ahead late.


The Sox were good for an A when they sat three games clear of anyone else with a 20-8 record through seven weeks.

But a 5-7 finish combined with another near-miss as they chase a maiden ABLCS took the gloss off a standout season.

Sydney's 25 regular-season wins were the second-most in franchise history and 12 more than a summer ago.

 But to have been in such a strong position and placed third for a sixth time in nine seasons must sting.

On a positive note, key contributors including Alex Maestri, Jack Murphy and Ty'Relle Harris have committed for next season.


This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.